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5/6/2009
07:02 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Google Profiles Push Privacy

Google is becoming more and more like Facebook. Last month, Google introduced Google Profiles, a collection of personal information associated with a given name that appears at the bottom of U.S.-based name searches. One might even go so far as to compare Google Profiles to Facebook Profiles.

Google is becoming more and more like Facebook. Last month, Google introduced Google Profiles, a collection of personal information associated with a given name that appears at the bottom of U.S.-based name searches. One might even go so far as to compare Google Profiles to Facebook Profiles.Google Profiles are associated with Google Accounts and continue the company's efforts of the past few years to gather more information about its users.

The company's aim is to provide more relevant services and ads, and to increase user engagement at its online properties. Where once Google was happy to send searchers on their way to other sites, it now sees value in giving users a reason to linger and interact, as they do on social networks like Facebook and MySpace.

At the same time, Google is demonstrating that it can do people-oriented search as well as, or better than, specialty search engines like Spock.com.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Google took a page out of Facebook's book by highlighting the privacy protection available to those who make Google Profiles.

"If you want people to be able to contact you, but don't want to reveal your e-mail address to the world, you can hide your username and use a 24 digit number instead," explains Google product manager Peter Chane. "Turn on the 'Send a message' feature, and anyone with a Google Account can send you a message through your profile, without having your e-mail address revealed to them."

Never mind that Google has probably already indexed your e-mail address and provided a pointer to the site where the information was found. Focus instead on Google's willingness to pitch privacy and information control as incentive for putting personal information into Google's hands.

Coming from a company that has consistently treated information as something to be organized and made universally accessible, this is a small but noteworthy divergence from the norm.

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